Former Indian Test cricketer Wasim Jaffer has expressed concerns about the Men in Blue’s team combination after the first ODI against Sri Lanka. Jaffer feels India must find room for an extra bowling all-rounder due to their four bowlers being completely inept with the bat.
The hosts went with three specialist pacers alongside Hardik Pandya, while Yuzvendra Chahal and Axar Patel handled the spin-bowling department.
At one stage, India looked on track for 400. However, they managed only 17 runs in the last three overs and hit only one boundary, losing two wickets as Sri Lanka restricted them to 373.
Speaking to ESPN Cricinfo, Jaffer reckoned India must re-think their team combination as they could struggle while chasing if they lose cheap early wickets. The 44-year-old said Mohammed Shami batting at number eight wasn’t convincing enough and Shardul Thakur or Washington Sundar should play in his place.
“We saw Mohammed Shami coming at number eight and it’s concerning for me. Although India made 370 runs, they managed only 17 runs in the last three overs as Shami and Mohammed Siraj were batting. It’s an area of concern, especially during a run-chase when they lose wickets and need runs at 8-10 per over. If Shami comes at number eight, it’s worrying how India can chase it.
“Moving forward, India have to address it and assess whether they can go with two seamers plus Hardik Pandya or afford to play all-rounders like Washington Sundar or Shardul Thakur, as there are no batters after number seven. It’s a grey area India must work on although it’s a royalty from a bowling perspective as three fast bowlers can bowl above 140. You also have a leg-spinner, but four bowlers who cannot bat at all is concerning.”
While the hosts won by a convincing margin of 67 runs, only Mohammed Siraj ended up with a respectable economy rate of 4.28. Umran Malik, who picked up three wickets, finished with figures of 8-0-57-3, while Shami went wicketless and conceded runs at 7.44 in nine overs.
“A sensational hundred in a losing cause” – Wasim Jaffer on Dasun Shanaka’s hundred
When asked whether Dasun Shanaka was waging a lone fight for Sri Lanka, Jaffer agreed and felt India lacked ideas to dismiss the all-rounder. He felt Shanaka’s second ODI ton reduced the losing margin significantly. Jaffer added:
“Absolutely. At least on the batting front, it looks like it’s Dasun Shanaka versus Indian bowlers and the series is going that way. For a long time, it has seemed like India have no answers on how to stop Shanaka and dismiss him.
“Sri Lanka would have lost by an even bigger margin had he not scored a hundred. It was a magnificant knock as the captain led from the front. A few more runs from the top-order batters would have got Sri Lanka closer to the target. However, he saved Sri Lanka from a massive defeat by reducing the margin. So, a sensational hundred in a losing cause.”
The 31-year-old finished unbeaten at 108 and formed an unbroken 100-run partnership with Kasun Rajitha for the ninth wicket. However, the target proved too steep.